Linger at one of The New Ristorante Forli's tables long enough, and owners Gabriele Davanzante or Russ Belleci might sidle up to the table to tell a joke or spontaneously burst into an Old Italian song. Flourishes like these imbue The New Ristorante Forli with the aura of a traditional Italian trattoria. In addition to a pair of jovial Italian hosts, The New Ristorante Forli cements its status as a cultural bastion by plating classic dishes such as osso bucco and braised lamb shank. Tuscan chianti and California pinot grigio punctuate the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Additionally, dining companions can cast aside games of napkin peek-a-boo and dance to live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
In the kaleidoscopic glow of ubiquitous neon lights, a bartender stirs blood orange vodka martinis for four guests at a table laden with tapas dishes. A DJ from Las Vegas spins progressive house music, sending bass thrumming through the entire club. This is a nightly scene at the ultra modern Redux Lounge, which gracefully blurs the line between hot nightclub and elegant tapas restaurant. In the afternoons before Redux shape shifts into a club, the kitchen grills seafood, tapas, and kebabs, often pairing them with one of Redux' house wines or martinis. At 10:00 p.m., the party starts. Disc jockeys fly in on magic carpets from LA, Las Vegas, San Francisco to spin tunes spanning the last 70 years of pop music. Redux' intelligent LED lighting system syncs up with every syncopation, flashing over the dance floor to the beat of the music. Outside on two heated outdoor patios, barkeeps mix gourmet cocktails for lounging guests. The kitchen stays open until close (2 a.m.) to fuel private parties in VIP areas and excited cheers in the sports lounge. Caterers also rush out through the bustling lounge, toting drinks and food to special events.
The two chefs at Cypress rely on more than following great recipes when crafting their fine French foods. They meticulously prepare every batch of béarnaise sauce and pot of coq au vin using sustainable, organic California ingredients as often as they can. They also take pride in their artful, festive presentation, serving their dishes tableside style on gueridons whenever possible and Cirque du Soleil style when they remember to bring their leotards. Servers, meanwhile, toss salads, sizzle up new york steaks with brandy, and ignite strawberry flambés.
Zambur Bar & Grill's masterful menu makers welcome visitors by handing them plates filled with kebabs, seafood, pub fare, and more. Begin the tasting session with sambosa, a puffy pastry indwelt by spicy potato eats ($4.95). Or, promise your mouth hot wings ($5.95), but then surprise it instead with battered crab cakes ($6.95) paired with a frothy brew from Zambur's full bar.
Hookahs are designed with hanging out in mind: the slowly-burning patty encourages users to sit and chat for a while as they draw slow breaths. Wicked Mirage's comfortable atmosphere, therefore, is the perfect complement to its ornate water pipes. With weekly poetry readings and frequent game-watching sessions, the lounge's calendar seems to have something for everyone—though many just opt for a simple night with friends or a complicated night with enemies. When it's time to inhale, patrons consult a 70-flavor shisha menu. Its varieties include classic smoke flavors, like jasmine and lemon-mint, as well as more inventive blends, like Wicked Candy's sorbet melon and "Pirate's Cove."
A native of Paris, Executive Chef Christian Nam-Hee sharpened his knife skills and his palate at l'Ecole de Paris des Métiers de la Table. Today he lets his know-how blossom and wander in the kitchen of Bijou Restaurant & Bar, blending the culinary traditions of his homeland with the flavors found in northern California's seasonal organic ingredients. From his pans and cutting boards spring forth sweet-potato frites, quail stuffed with napa cabbage, and other dishes that embody the menu's inventive fusion spirit. To complement such an aesthetically poignant dining experience, the space itself—designed by DesignPlus's Pia Thomas—remains sleek and focused. The centerpiece is the bar, which glows a dreamy, iridescent amber that's complemented by ring chandeliers and absorbed by Italian leather chairs, a lounge area's plush velvet cushions, and tabletop black holes.